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Sweatpants & Humor | Overthinking Star Trek

By Tony Moir

Let me preface this by saying that one of my favorite, and arguably the most influential fandom in existence is that of the Star Trek universe.  Countless scientists, writers, inventors, geeks, social outcasts, and positive thinkers have been positively influenced by the stories and the ethos of this collection of shows, movies, stories, lunchboxes, conventions, and phrases that have entered our cultural lexicon down to the chromosomal level.

With that said, however, there are many things that puzzled me about the original show and its descendants.  I do understand the limitations of the genre, and how pure fantasy must sometimes bend to the reality of earthbound limitations.  Really, I do.  I don’t like it, but I understand it.  That doesn’t stop me from hoping that someday I will wake up and it will all be true, and I will exclaim “I KNEW IT!” like Justin Long’s character in Galaxy Quest.

One thing that always puzzled me was the lack of pockets.  Don’t they need to carry things around with them besides their phaser and tricorders?  What about gum?  Don’t people still chew gum in the future?  Perhaps a wallet, or maybe some headphones?  Doesn’t it seem like Scotty would have a wrench or something?  Like a tool belt that would cause his pants to sag a bit and expose his buttcrack?  At least B’Elanna Torres has nerd pockets, but she never seems to use the instruments stored in them, which is even more endearingly nerdy.

Star Trek 1968. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Also, what happens to the uniform after—do they throw it away and replicate another?  Is there a uniform designer somewhere at Starfleet that redesigns them now and again?  Like the dude that came up with the maroon ones with the little strap over the shoulder finally retires, and the successor says “Oh yeah, it’s tight jumpsuit time!”

The fact that there are always communicators attached seems sort of intrusive.  Like you could say, “Computer, locate Mr. Worf.”  And the computer would say “Mr. Worf is in his quarters, looking at weird Klingon Porn.”  Or “Ensign Kim is in his quarters, potentially questioning his life choices.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that…”  But then if you leave the communicator on the shelf, the computer has no idea whatsoever where you went.  It is sort of like Superman’s glasses being an incredibly effective disguise.  (He was just here, but now there is only this guy in a Superman costume—but with glasses on, so it can’t be him.)  Wouldn’t the computer still think maybe these life readings in the shower near the communicator badge might be Seven of Nine?

Plus, while we are on the subject of showers and bathrooms, how does one get out of those uniforms to go to the bathroom?  Also, if you could, wouldn’t you just invent a small transporter to beam the pee somewhere, and you wouldn’t have to even go?  Just think of the potential for Halloween pranks there.  And the showers, they usually say are sonic.  So the dirt comes off, okay, but then are you just standing in a little circle of dirt afterwards?

Speaking of Seven of Nine, (as she is definitely the best Borg,) I would ask a few general Borg questions that have always kind of been head scratchers to me.  First, why do they all sound American?  What if the first human they ever assimilated was Australian?  Would they sound different?

Like This?? (click to listen)

There is also the essentially illogical aspect of the fact that they could just have sent tiny ships back through time and seeded the atmospheres of every inhabited planet with nanoprobes without ever leaving their solar system, and bang, Insta-Borg galaxy.  But then again, that is kind of the point of the story; if there are no limits on the villains, then they cease to be villains, they become unsympathetic gods and the show gets cancelled.  Sort of like the weird whaleophile enormous sushi hand roll probe that comes to Earth in Star Trek IV to speak with the humpbacks.  If that was the villain in the series, episode two would have been pretty boring with just that floating around after all the heroes are gone vaporized.  So the fact that the Borg are able to be defeated makes them great villains even though I kinda think the Borg queen has a thing for Janeway.

Credit: SyFy

One other thing I have never understood is the holodecks.  I understand the potential principles behind it because I am a geek, but the thing is, every technological advance in communication ever gets used for porn first.  Look it up, it is true.  So why would that be a surprise to anyone that people were programming that?  When it is proposed as a solution for Vulcans in Pon Farr in a couple of instances on Voyager, (see?) there is an unlikely element of surprise that seems weird. It seems probable that Neelix would have been like “Duh, seriously this did not cross your mind?  I’m not even your species and it crossed my mind.”  On that subject as well, why would we assume that people from different planets would have compatible parts in any case?  Might it just be as probable that the alien person consumes their partner afterward akin to a praying mantis, or that their reproductive process involves six or seven different wiggly things that come nowhere near a human erogenous zone?

With Vulcans, that is the one thing I really don’t quite get.  So they have amazing memories, incredible math skills, and the ability to communicate complex thoughts and devastating flames on anyone around using only their eyebrows, yet they are constantly surprised by their primal urge to mate once every seven years.  I mean, it seems like they would eventually remember that April 16th every seven years they wake up with a raging whatever it is they use for sexing each other up, but they always seem to say, “Oh, crap!  That was today???”

It is definitely the universe I would most like to live in between many competing science fiction and fantasy paradigms, but I do sort of wonder what kind of job I would have, because I would assume that I might not be joining Starfleet, per se.  Maybe I would be the guy who programs and sells holographic shrubbery.  Or possibly I would run an artisan Klingon blood winery.  Whatever it would be, at least I would be able to beam to work and take vacations on the moon to see Keith Richards play.  I just hope by then that our reality shows are more interesting than just Real Housewives of Kronos, or Keeping up with the Cardassians.

Tony Moir is a cyborg who holds world records in synchronized luge and panda steeplechase. Or maybe he isn’t. But he lives in San Francisco with his lovely wife and three outstanding sons.

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About Tony Moir (31 Articles)
Tony Moir may or may not be one of your favorite writers. It depends. It depends on many things, not the least important is your personal taste in writing. Although if you were to give him a list of requirements, it is possible he could change, or maybe not, I’m not sure. In any case, he is thinking about it.

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